Let’s face it. As humans, we just like to rank stuff and, perhaps more importantly, we love to hear other people rank the stuff we like. Be honest with yourself – how many “Top 5” or “Top 10” or top whatever articles have you clicked on in the last month? Ranking things also might be one of the best ways we know to feel people out.
When we’re trying to move someone into “friend” territory or even beyond, we often spend some time talking about favorite things, like favorite food, favorite movie, and so on. Rankings are important. And here at DLF, the dynasty rankings we supply are very important to our readers, and we try our best to continue to deliver.
Ranking players is not an easy thing to do. The popularity of our rankings also means they are subject to a great deal of scrutiny. Since we use a number of rankers for each set of rankings we put out, there are often wildly different opinions on players. In this series, I’ll take a look at some of those examples where I find the biggest discrepancy between the highest rank and lowest rank for a given set of players, and give each ranker the opportunity to defend why they are so high or so low on each player. Let’s get started.
Derek Carr, QB OAK – Composite Rank QB6
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George Kritikos – QB2
This ranking is just as much an indictment on the state of the quarterback position as it is an endorsement of Carr. He is just one of seven quarterbacks to accumulate 60 or more passing touchdowns over the last two years, but the only one younger than 30. Add in nearly 4,000 passing yards and ten interceptions per year over that time and Carr is one of the few budding, consistent quarterbacks in the league. The offense grows more potent around him so if anything, Carr could take another statistical leap.
Jeff Haverlack – QB12
Carr is a difficult quarterback to rank though he is trending up, finishing as 2016’s QB7 vs. his 2015 QB13 ranking. But I never make knee-jerk ranking changes with my quarterbacks unless there’s something that greatly stands out to me. I took a lot of heat for my low ranking of Ryan Tannehill following his 2015 performance, but he quickly slid back into mediocrity in 2016. If Carr performs similarly in 2017 (following a relatively serious injury,) he’ll get an upgrade in my rankings. Until then, I need to see another year.
Quarterbacks are a deep position and a consistent top performer allows the fantasy coach to ride that horse while looking for the next young(er) player for the future. I don’t see Carr as an elite prospect who warrants an extremely high ranking at this point in his career, but he’s a fantastic QB2 with upside. Too many quarterbacks have great years only to fail to repeat in the following year. I’ll favor historical consistency over youth every time at the quarterback position.
Tom Brady, QB NEP – Composite Rank QB14
Jeff Haverlack – QB7
In dynasty, I believe many coaches have trouble separating the positions when it comes to strategy and the quarterback position is a perfect example. In most formats, a coach can only start a single QB and the length of a QB’s career can be quite long. Find a consistent performer and a coach can ‘set it and forget it’ for a decade or more while keeping his eyes peeled for the young up-and-comer.
My ranking of Brady assumes the fantasy team in question is competitive and not in rebuilding mode. He is aging, but with a couple more years of top performance possible, there’s no need to rank ‘what could be’ over ‘what is.’ The annual point disparity between 2016’s QB7 and the QB16 is 19 points TOTAL. Unless you play in a 2QB league, I’d ride Brady while looking for tomorrow’s top-ten quarterback.
Steve Wyremski – QB18
My Brady ranking is entirely driven by age. He’s 39 years old and will be 40 at the start of the 2017 season. Brady isn’t your typical quarterback, but neither was Brett Favre and Favre played until he was 41. Yes, Brady appears to be in much better shape at 39 with his ridiculous diet and training regime, but I can’t see him playing any more than three more years, maximum. There’s even a risk to this projection. His wife is asking him to retire – does that influence him after the 2017 season? We don’t know, and I’m not willing to take on a dynasty asset that could be worthless in a year or two. I’m more comfortable with that risk in the mid to low-end QB2 range.
Tyrod Taylor, QB BUF – Composite Rank QB18
Jeff Miller – QB10
Jeff spent a good part of his most recent edition of “Mind of Miller” talking about Taylor specifically. Read up on his thoughts here. Here’s a brief snippet:
“Among quarterbacks who have started at least 16 total games the last two seasons, Taylor has scored the eighth most points per game at 18.2.”
Bruce Matson – QB17
[Editor’s Note – Keep in mind the elements for this article were requested before a lot of free agency moves were complete, and the questions around Taylor did affect Bruce’s ranking. Trust me, he knows Taylor is now staying in Buffalo, and Bruce did move Taylor up in his rankings when that news broke.]
I’ve always liked Taylor as a fantasy asset due to his rushing ability and his consistent production. The Bills are more than likely going to cut him loose, making him a free agent, creating some uncertainties in his long term player value. This could be a good thing, because he could get picked up by a team that’s more stable and has the pieces in place on offense to maximize Taylor’s potential. This could also be viewed as a bad thing because he could be viewed as a stop-gap or a backup by his new team, which is the last thing fantasy owners would want to happen.
Where I have him ranked is more of a reflection of the instability of his future while preparing for the worst possible outcome. Right now, just to play it safe, I’m selecting some of the more stable quarterbacks over him in startups, to insure that I don’t invest in an asset that experiences a major drop in fantasy value in the near future. He’s more than likely going to move up my rankings if he signs with a team that will give him the opportunity to start.
Carson Palmer, QB ARI – Composite Rank QB27
Matt Price – QB20
Despite the fact that 2017 is likely the final season of Carson Palmer’s career, I view him as a nice buy low for a contending team that needs a solid QB2 for a title run. Referencing James Simpson’s Consistent Greatness series, which looks at the most consistent performers over the past three seasons, Palmer has finished as a fantasy QB1 or QB2 in 89% of his last 37 games. 51% of the time he finished as a QB1. Palmer is the perfect QB2 that can fill in for your QB1 during bye weeks or potentially even be a savior should your QB1 suffer a serious injury.
George Kritikos – QB34
Palmer went from league leading per game and per attempt numbers in 2015 to among the league worst in 2016. Touchdown rates and yards per attempt dropped to near career low numbers while his sack number was just one off his career worst (40). The latter is concerning considering Palmer’s age and ever-brittle body. Michael Floyd is gone, John Brown is unreliable, and Larry Fitzgerald is another year older. If you plan to invest in a veteran quarterback, there are better (and cheaper) options worth holding.
Cardale Jones – Composite Rank QB37
Ryan McDowell – QB33
We all saw Cardale Jones go from third stringer to National Champion for Ohio State back in 2014, and he finds himself on the bench again, this time for the Buffalo Bills. For a while this off-season, it looked as if the Bills would move on from starter Tyrod Taylor, potentially opening the door for Jones to earn some playing time. With Taylor’s new deal, that now looks unlikely at least in 2017, but I am still a believer in Jones’ talent and the Bills certainly don’t seem sold on Taylor as their long-term starter. While Jones is not worth rostering is a typical 1QB league, I do like the idea of stashing him in super-flex or 2QB leagues with an eye towards 2018.
Jaron Foster – QB49
Jones just doesn’t stand out as a player I want to own in dynasty. At Ohio State he was inaccurate and wild with his passes, didn’t react well to pressure, and was extremely raw. I haven’t seen evidence that he has the intangibles needed to make up for his deficiencies at the NFL level. The size and weakness comps to Logan Thomas may come to fruition, and now they are on the same team. Add in that Tyrod Taylor just re-upped with Buffalo, and Jones may fall out of my top 50 altogether after the draft.
That wraps up the first entry in our new series on rankings. If you love getting deep like this, also be sure to check out the “Breaking Down the ADP” series from Jeff Miller and Dan Sainio. Also be on the lookout for the next entry in this series, where we’ll take a look at the running back position.